You think the Ottawa Senators missed Daniel Alfredsson much?
The Sens captain continued to light up the scoresheet during his second game back from injury, netting a natural hat trick as the Sens pasted the Bruins 5-1 on Monday afternoon in Boston.
"Being able to do some real good workouts and skates, coming back I feel fresher than anybody," Alfredsson said.
Ottawa scored two goals on three shots in the first period and added two more in the second. Boston broke the goose egg five minutes into the third before the Sens salted the game away with their fifth goal halfway through the frame.
Alfredsson, 37, now has four goals and two assists in his first two games back from injury. The Swede missed 11 games because of a separated shoulder, but is still second on the team in scoring behind Mike Fisher, who had three assists on Monday.
"I don't think anything [Alfredsson] does can surprise you anymore," Sens goalie Brian Elliott said.
The Sens' third goal chased Boston goalie Tim Thomas from the Bruins' crease, the third time he's been pulled this season. The U.S. Olympian let in three goals on nine shots, and was replaced by Tukka Rask.
"He kept finding those holes and finding those lanes to get the puck through," Thomas said.
Alexei Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for Ottawa, which has now won three straight after dropping five in a row.
With the win, the Senators have jumped over the Bruins for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are even on points with 54, but Ottawa holds the tie-breaker.
Better news for the Sens: they are getting solid goaltending from both healthy stoppers now. Elliott only allowed one goal on 22 shots Monday, while rookie Mike Brodeur has won both starts he's had and is sporting a .966 save percentage.
Elliott started in place of the red-hot Brodeur Monday because the rookie felt dizzy before the opening puck drop.
Ottawa is playing without starting goalie Pascal Leclaire, along with forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, though Spezza looks like he's close to returning.
The victory soured Patrice Bergeron's return to the Boston lineup. The Canadian Olympian missed two weeks because of a fractured thumb, and was on the ice for 16:56, going minus-1. The Bruins are still without offensive sparkplug Marc Savard, along with defenders Mark Stuart and Andrew Ference.
Ottawa broke a six-game losing string at TD Garden in Boston. The Bruins have lost six of their last eight games.
The early 1 p.m. ET start time didn't benefit either team, as the game was sluggish from the get-go. But even though there were only eight shots on goal in the first period, the Senators sported a 2-0 lead after the frame.
Kovalev scored Ottawa's first goal when the Bruins' defence was crossed-up on a 2-on-2. Fisher slid a pass through to Kovalev and the Russian sniper buried his 12th of the season at 7:39. Alfredsson netted his first of the game at 14:24, scoring on the Sens' third shot on goal.
In the second, the game began to turn into The Alfie Show.
Alfredsson scored to make it 3-0 at 10:04, tipping in a Filip Kuba point shot, chasing Thomas from the Boston crease.
"Since he's been back, he seems a little more energized," Senators coach Cory Clouston said.
The change to Rask in net didn't spark the Bruins, as Alfredsson pulled off his natural hat-trick at 13:14 when he fired a shot past the Boston goalie from the point on the power play.
Daniel Paille scored at 4:23 of the third to break Elliott's shutout bid, before Cheechoo netted one to make it 5-1 Ottawa at 11:05.
Though Cheechoo's goal was unassisted, referee Dan O'Rourke should get an honorary helper. He got tangled up with Boston puck-carrier Dennis Wideman, allowing Cheechoo to walk in alone and score on Rask.
"It didn't matter [today] because it was 5-1, but what if it was a tie hockey game?" Wideman said.With files from The Associated Press